Longer Life Foundation grants announced

Studies look to improve quality of life among elderly

The Longer Life Foundation has awarded grants to six research projects on issues related to aging at Washington University School of Medicine.

The foundation, which is a cooperative effort between the School of Medicine and the Reinsurance Group of America, funds independent research into improving methods for predicting long-term mortality. Its activities are coordinated through the Longer Life Center in the School of Medicine’s Division of Geriatrics and Nutritional Science.

Over the last 10 years, the foundation has awarded more than $2 million to the university. This most recent group of grants provides a total of $279,000, and each grant award totals between $26,000 and $75,000.

Grant renewals were awarded to John O. Holloszy, MD, professor of medicine, and Luigi Fontana, MD, PhD, research associate professor of medicine, for the “Longer Life Foundation Longevity Research Program,” a project comparing key functions in people who practice calorie restriction with the same bodily functions in normal weight individuals and in endurance athletes.

Also receiving a second year of funding was Shin-ichiro Imai, MD, PhD, associate professor of developmental biology and of medicine, for a project entitled “Diagnostic and Therapeutic Applications of a Novel Plasma Metabolite, Nicotinamide Mononucleotide (NMN), for Age-Associated Metabolic Complications in Humans.” Another renewal went to Ravi Rasalingam, MD, assistant professor of medicine, for the project “Novel Methods for Detection of Coronary Artery Disease in Diabetic Patients,” which is looking at the feasibility of using of sound waves to detect blocked blood vessels as a screening tool for people with diabetes who are at risk for coronary heart disease.

New grants this year went to Marco Colonna, MD, professor of pathology and immunology and of medicine, for the project “Does Caloric Restriction Slow Aging of the Human Immune System?” Another grant funds a project entitled “Novel Proteins as Urinary Biomarkers of Renal Cell Carcinoma,” which seeks biomarkers that may signal the presence of cancer of the kidney. That project is directed by Jeremiah J. Morrissey, PhD, research professor or anesthesiology, and Evan D. Kharasch, MD, PhD, the Russell & Mary Shelden Professor of Anesthesiology.

The other new grant went to Xiaowei Wang, PhD, assistant professor of radiation oncology, for the project “MicroRNA Expression Signatures to Predict Cervical Cancer Outcome,” a study designed to identify markers that might help physicians better predict which cervical cancer tumors are most likely to respond to therapy.

Longer Life Foundation representatives are now reviewing proposals for next year. Researchers chosen to submit applications will be notified by the end of March. For more information, contact Joan M. Heins in the Longer Life Center at 286-1912 or jheins@wustl.edu.